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Commission proposes landmark package to modernise, simplify and strengthen the agri-food chain in Europe

07.05.13 | News

The European Commission has adopted a package of measures to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain. Food safety is essential to ensure consumers' confidence and sustainability of food production.

The package of measures provide a modernised and simplified, more risked-based approach to the protection of health and more efficient control tools to ensure the effective application of the rules guiding the operation of the food chain.

The package responds to the call for better simplification of legislation and smarter regulation thus reducing administrative burden for operators and simplifying the regulatory environment. Special consideration is given to the impact of this legislation on SMEs and micro enterprises which are exempted from the most costly and burdensome elements in the legislation.

The current body of EU legislation covering the food chain consists of almost 70 pieces of legislation. Today's package of reform will cut this down to 5 pieces of legislation and will also reduce the red-tape on processes and procedures for farmers, breeders and food business operators (producers, processors and distributors) to make it easier for them to carry out their profession.

Tonio Borg, Health and Consumer Commissioner, said: "The agri-food industry is the second largest economic sector in the EU, employing over 48 million people and is worth some €750 billion a year. Europe has the highest food safety standards in the world. However, the recent horsemeat scandal has shown that there is room for improvement, even if no health risk emerged. Today's package of reforms comes at an opportune moment as it shows that the system can respond to challenges; it also takes on board some of the lessons learned. In a nutshell, the package aims to provide smarter rules for safer food".

Businesses will benefit from simpler, science and risk-based rules in terms of reduced administrative burden, more efficient processes and measures to finance and strengthen the control and eradication of animal diseases and plant pests. Consumers will benefit from safer products and a more effective and more transparent system of controls along the chain.